CONQUEST

The opening drum roll kicks off “The Motherload” by Mastodon, and during the blistering electric guitars, We are treated to a montage of impacts

I can see what the world has done to you

I can feel the weight

Feel the weight

Buck Dresden walks down a deserted desert highway under a full moon, wearing a shearling jean jacket and a beaten straw cowboy hat.  He pauses, looking across the pitch black desert, his eyes narrowing.  As the camera pans to where he’s looking, the view changes, showing a king on his throne, flanked by three attendants–the light shifts and illuminates them in full: Joshua Breedlove in an ermine cape, The Sin City Scoundrels on either side, KIMO and Clemson Dean standing in the back. 

I can see what this life has handed you

I can feel the weight

Feel the weight

Hard cut.  NC-17 emerges from a sports car on the vegas strip–as he stands tall, the lights on the LED display of a building behind him short out before showing an image of Ultimo Muerte.  The Camera zooms in on his eyes until the colors become a blur, cutting to a mountaintop, where the Unholy Cyber Army climb, flashes of lightning illuminating them in all of their face paint, leather, and steel as they scream to heavens.

This time, this time

Things’ll work out just fine

We won’t let you slip away

This time, this time

Things’ll work out just fine

We won’t let you leave this way

Ayumi Seppuku emerges from the steam of a grate in an alleyway, eyes cast upwards on a far off destination.  The resolve in her eyes flashes like fire in the dim light. In a split screen, we see both Azraith and Judy-E DeMitri packing their gear.  Their motions are almost a perfect mirror of one another–as the camera pans in, their faces become superimposed on one another until she pulls her mask on, causing a cut to another scene.  

If you want you can will it

You can have it

I can put it right there in your hands!

Cut to a picture of Buck Dresden on a wall.  With a soft thunk, a dart hits him in the chest.  Thunk, thunk–neck and forehead.  Finally with a loud sound of burrowing impact, a fireman’s axe bisected the picture and most of the drywall.  The Camera turns in time to see Arthur Pleasant’s face go from murderous rage to a soft Buddha smile. It’s less a gym or a facility–what it is is a bunch of rusty equipment under canopies somewhere in the middle of nowhere.  X-Calibur executes a slow pull up, then let’s himself down to resting.  As soon as he is, with his entire torso exposed, a sparring partner begins laying into his stomach with a 30 pound medicine ball, nothing but hard leather impacts and grunts before cutting away again.

I can hear what the spirits are telling you

I can clear the weight

Clear the weight

Lindsay Troy opens a door and yells inside, shouldering a bag, rolling her eyes in gentle, mocking annoyance.  As she strides to a waiting SUV, Pat Cassidy rushes behind her, somehow handling a duffel bag, pulling on a jacket, and polishing off his road beer in a deft dance.  Off strip, in the rotting glory of Old Vegas, throngs of tourists fight for sidewalk space with the homeless, streetwalkers, and men handing out fliers and phone sex cards.  Their activities speed up until they’re a blur of motion with neon tint–except for one figure.  Tall, cold, and walking at an almost glacial pace amongst the fast forward humanity around him: Void.

I can see all the wolves as they circle you

I can crush the weight

Crush the weight

Nate Robideau stands in front of the heavy bag at Blackhawk.  He lays big boulder punches into it, covered in sweat–blood drops from his raw knuckles as he keeps his eye on a point in the distance and strikes with renewed vigor.  Hard cut.  Seated at a table are Ben Bronson, Kintaro, and RAIKO.  One the table is a map laid out with various stages and battlefields on the way to glory.  Standing, reaching over his “guest”, Victor Thane uses a pointing stick to advance a block of miniature fighters labeled “Proper Villianz” across the map to meet one labeled “Brogun”–where he promptly knocks the opposition to its side and advances his own to a spot marked “Conquest”

This time, this time

Things’ll work out just fine

We won’t let you slip away

This time, this time

Things’ll work out just fine

We won’t let you leave this way

Dan Stein looks over his wife as she sleeps fitfully.  His eyes shift from soft and tender towards her, to hardened and enraged as he looks out the window into the darkness of the desert outside of the city.

If you want you can will it

You can have it

I can put it right there in your hands!

As the instrumental section of the song hits, Buck’s road takes him right into the heart of the city–as he walks down the deserted strip, a tumbleweed accompanies him. We see Dan Stein closing the door of his home and locking not only the handle, but the two new deadbolts, his face grimly determined as he walks out of frame.  A limousine carries the Sextons, Kimo, and Dean who laugh in the back–standing with his torso out of the top is Josh Breedlove, who is casting a serious gaze as his face is bathed in neon.  Ayumi takes note of the limo as it passes her, and begins jogging in it’s direction, her form steady.  The Villainz emerge from their vehicle, stepping out with precision and unification. The Bonemobile executes a screeching drift stop, the Broguns practically tumbling out.  Lindsay and Pat emerge from their car, surveying the surroundings and nodding to one another.  Azraith walks down a sidewalk–though he isn’t alone, Judy-E is striding in front of him with no regard for how far he lags behind.  NC-17 walks down the strip–as he passes each building, the lights go dark after the video and neon displays shift to Ultimo Muerte’s eyes.  As Nate emerges from Blackhawk, the lights in East Vegas die, and he casts his eyes toward the moon before throwing up his hood and stalking off.The Cyber Army emerge from the dust of the desert just as the lights of civilization go black.  Void disappears as soon as the city lights go out–when the emergencies flicker on, he’s gone from being in the distance of the camera’s view to an extreme closeup before a hard cut.

This time, this time

Things’ll work out just fine

We won’t let you slip away

This time, this time

Things’ll work out just fine

We won’t let you leave this way

A helicopter circular view of all of the darkness of a totally dead Las Vegas.  However, during a swoop, a light shows in the distance.  It is so powerful it casts a beam into the sky: The SHOOT Project Epicenter.  We cut to a street view as everyone makes their way into the building, some miming that they’re talking shit, most walking in with their shoulders hunched, all business.  The last one in is Buck, who closes the door with a slam.

If you want you can will it

You can have it

I can put it right there in your hands!


The feed cuts the a black background on the final note as, in succession, hands raise their belts: Sin City, Iron Fist, World Tag, TRIAD, World Heavyweight.  The image of Nate Robideau’s hands raising the big belt fade slowly, as the graphic loads…

We cut to the Epicenter where pyro goes off in sequence, the final explosions announcing that we are here, we are live, and it’s pay per view time.  At the announce desk sits Eryk Masters in the best tuxedo a man could buy in 2002–next to him is Other Guy, wearing a black long sleeved t-shirt that says “TUXEDO” on the front in white lettering.  Eryk grins and dives in.

Eryk Masters: Welcome one and all to one of the most action packed nights in the history of SHOOT Project!  We’ve got a card so stacked I can’t even look at it without reeling!  OG, tell the fine people what’s going on!!

Other Guy: ‘Ryk, if I’m putting one word on it, that word is crazytown!  Full Shifty Shellshock–you want wrestling?  You want two out of three falls?  Violence, submissions, cages?!  Deathmatches?!  TRIAD matches?!  Blood for blood!!  

He has gotten progressively more hyped, and slumps back in his chair in an elaborate pantomime of exhaustion–he even checks his pulse. 

Eryk Masters: As my colleague has said, we–

Other Guy: Every belt on the line?!

Eryk Masters: we have an absolutely packed night in store and we’re not hear to vamp, draw it out, or do any sort of time filling!  Buck Dredsen is taking on Arthur Pleasant, and that action is literally right now!!



Buck Dresden Vs. Arthur Pleasant

“Outlaws and Outsiders” continues to play as Abigail Chase enters the ring.  Buck’s standing in the center of the ring, his head bowed and his breathing heavily.  The fans are elated and pumped to see the return of the Bluegrass Bad Ass, the All-American Outlaw, Buck Dresden.  Chase walks over to him, microphone in hand and a smile on her face.  “Outlaws and Outsiders” dies down.

Abigail Chase:  Buck Dresden, congratulations on a hard fought and difficult victory against Arthur Pleasant.

Buck Dresden:  Abi girl, let me tell you…that sumbitch can slang.  He’s got sledgehammers fer fists but you know what?  I took it an’ took it an’ now I can stand right here an’ tell each an’ every one of you IT IS TIME!

Abigail Chase:  Time for what, Buck?

Buck grins and points to the camera, wiping his sweaty hair from his face over his head.

Buck Dresden:  NEMESIS!  NATE ROBIDEAU!

The fans POP.

Buck Dresden:  Don’t get too comfy up on the mountaintop!

Another cheer.

Buck Dresden:  Whoever walks outta that match tonight the winner needs to hear me loud’n clear.  Buck’s comin’ for that World Championship.

He wraps Abigail up in a hug and kisses her cheek.  She is both disgusted by the sweaty embrace and laughs at his pure joy at his victory.  “Outlaws and Outsiders” kicks back up as Buck ascends the turnbuckle and points to the audience, nodding his head and grinning from ear to ear.

Eryk Masters:  Ladies and gentlemen, you heard it here first!  Buck Dresden is calling his shot and he wants next for that World title!

Other Guy:  I don’t know what NEMESIS and Nate are thinking tonight but they’d better be ready because Buck Dresden looks more prepared than ever!



NC-17 Vs. Ultimo Muerte



Backstage,  Locker room.  Azraith DeMitri has shrunk in his years.  Make no mistake, he’s still an absolutely gigantic slab of human being, but even he’d tell you: as the years go on, the muscles become less impressive and defined.  He’s pacing, doing high knee lifts, engaging muscles and tendons, preparing.  After a moment, he settles onto the bench seating and retrieves a roll of medical tape, which he begins to apply with the complete lack of focus that we apply to most tasks that have become rote. 

Padding in, bare footed, meat on the concrete is another man who normally reads as one of the biggest in the room.  But here his height difference and his quiet manner make him seem small.  He stands for a moment, letting his presence be known. 

Robideau: Azraith.

The larger man doesn’t turn, but does nod his head as he tapes his wrist. 

Azraith: Nate.

The World Champion takes a seat on a folding chair with a slight groan.  Neither of these men are precisely fresh, and even if one was a professional and one was elsewhere, they’ve both spent years in wars.  It shows in these moments. 

Robideau: I’m not here to do something as low as tune you up before your match, if you were worried about that.

Az chuckles and spins on the bench seat so he’s facing Nate.  His eyes do all the talking, his brow looking inquisitive, prompting words.

Robedeau: I actually wanted to wish you luck.  I know, probably better than most, that you’ve dedicated a lot of prep to this.  As you should.  X is a dangerous man. 

He leans forward, elbows to knees, and smiles softly. 

Robideau: You’re dangerous too. 

Az nods quietly, letting the awkward silence hang in the air for a while as he pulls his left knee upwards, almost to his chest, before groaning slightly and letting it drop onto the bench with an unceremonious *thunk*.

Azraith: He’s dangerous.  Spry.  A lot more flexible than me, that’s for sure.  Backed by an army of sycophants and a psychopath for an offspring.  Dangerous.

There’s a tone to Az’s words, almost wistful.  Like it all feels so familiar.  A small snicker before he shakes his head, meeting Nate’s gaze again.

Azraith: Men like us, we go through our wars.  We gather our scars and we move on.  You, me, X…we’ve all seen it so many times and felt that pain so often it’s just part of punching the ticket.  I…hm.  I know you don’t probably wanna hear this, but I’m gonna tell you because I’d regret it if I didn’t.  You know how I know Judy-E is serious about this…all of this now?

Nate raises an eyebrow, sitting upwards slightly.

Robideau: Elaborate, please.

Azraith: She’s cut me off.  Completely.  I haven’t seen her since she joined up with VALOR.  She’s been training, working, watching tape…everything exclusively with them.  She’s been working with some of the absolute best talent SHOOT has to offer, collaborating and learning and doing it her way.  Her Way.  Whatever you did to piss her off…it’s got her more focused than I’ve ever seen her before.  

Nate smirks slightly, and Az nods, a silent understanding between the two.  Before Nate has a chance to reply, Az cuts him off.

Azraith: Yeah, I know.  I…just.  

Az sighs, running a hand through his hair.

Azraith: She’s taking all of this mighty personal because she’s never been put into the position you’ve put her in before.  You’re the first person here that’s really, truly threatened her in a way that she’s felt like her own raw talent hasn’t been enough to get her over the hill.  I know you know that, you’ve been training people as long as I have.  You know the difference between talent and hard work.  You know what happens when young talent finds that second gear and crank into it.  I guess…I’m fuckin’ rambling but I guess what I’m trying to get at is…at this end of this?  Please don’t take it personal.  She’s a good kid, better than I ever was at that age and better than I’ll probably ever be.  Win or lose…give it some time and she’ll come and tell you all this herself, I can guarantee it.  I know her…I…

Nate’s eyes steady on Azraith as he cuts himself short.  Another quiet shake of his head.

Azraith: Sorry…I cut you off.

Robideau: Azraith…

He takes a moment to think on this and stands, stuffing his hands into the pocket of his sweatshirt.

Robideau: …I say this bluntly because I know you won’t take it incorrectly.  It’s always personal, at some level.  So I am going to hurt her.  I will break her, snap her, bloody her, and rattle her.  She will scream for mercy in ways she was unaware she could–she will cry agony in a voice she doesn’t recognize.  Because that is what this is, at this level.  Giving or receiving.  Pain.  Always, always pain.  This belt or not.  Pain

He begins to walk off–but pauses and turns, looking at Azraith, who is eyeballing the floor with his jaw set.  

Robideau: So stay safe.  X is a dangerous man.  And soon she might need someone to help her piece this all back together. 

He leaves, as simply as he came.  Azraith watches him go, then nods his head slowly, sighing and he lets his elbows settle on his knees.  With a deep sigh in his chest, the camera cuts away to the announce table.  

Other Guy: I mean you tell me dude, are we seeing mindgames or is this just how Nate is?

Eryk Masters: I’m no psychologist OG, but I think Nate is going to be bringing it to NEMESIS tonight, full tilt, no mercy!

At this, OG rolls his eyes in a very overdramatic fashion.

Other Guy: That’s obvious bro, jesus.  But he ain’t lying folks, there’s a whole plethora of action about to happen tonight, so stay tuned, ’cause it’s only going to get crazier from here!



Lindsay Troy & Pat Cassidy Vs. KIMO/Clemson Dean

A camera finds Ayumi Seppuku sitting in her locker room, geared up and putting on her warrior paint for her upcoming match.

Like a voyeur, there is a sense of invisibility as Ayumi stares at her reflection in the still-shattered vanity mirror. Then, the silence is broken as Ayumi speaks – her eyes unwavering from looking deep into her own reflection.

Ayumi: Eminence. Emperor. Commander of a Holy Empire. That’s a lot of weight to carry on a single-person’s shoulders. Accumulating, building, growing like a tumor that spreads until it controls the entire body. 

Ayumi rubs white face paint over her cheeks and forehead as she talks.

Ayumi: And this… sickness… that is Joshua Breedlove. It has been allowed to fester for too long. It has been allowed to EXIST for too long. It is a weed that must be ripped up from the root and burned until there is nothing left but ash.

The white paint is followed by streaks of black.

Ayumi: Caesar. Nero. Khan. Alexander. Napoleon. They all had empires too. Passion. Confidence. Victories. Titles. Successes. And they all fell under the weight of their own self-importance; destroyed by those who they discounted; dismissed; and disregarded.

Ayumi adds a final touch of red to complete a new manifestation of the Ronin Wraith.

Ayumi: Tonight the Holy Breedlove Empire ends at the hands of the Ayumi Seppuku Revolution.

Ayumi smiles to herself, putting a hand on the mirror and leaning in, as her new look is completed.

Ayumi: Welcome to the Jungle, indeed. 

During a lull in the action, the fans are greeted by the unfamiliar music of “Take Out the Gunman” by Chevelle. As the guitar tempo chugs slowly into gear, the fans stir in anticipation. At the 0:35 mark of the song as the drums kick in, a proverbial ghost emerges. The ghost is in the form of one-time TTW and LEGACY stand-out Justin Moreno as long-time fans give a shocked reaction to his presence while the younger fans find themselves unsure of what to make of this man with flowing salt-and-pepper hair and a matching goatee in a black SHOOT Project polo shirt, khakis, and Oxford dress shoes standing before them at the rampway.

Eryk Masters: Talk about seeing a ghost! I never thought I would see the day Justin Moreno set foot in a SHOOT Project ring!

Other Guy: Oof… looks like Father Time caught up with Moreno from where I’m sitting! That graying hair, though!

Justin stands at the rampway, soaking in whatever crowd reaction he can get before slowly lifting the microphone to his lips, looking out at the crowd without moving a muscle. A familiar gleam can be seen in Justin’s eyes as he makes the crowd wait to hear him speak. Finally, Justin starts to speak.

Justin Moreno: Ten years.

He pauses again before continuing.

Justin Moreno: Ten. Long. Years.

Once more, Justin pauses before continuing.

Justin Moreno: It’s been ten years since I darkened the doors of a major promotion when I chose to walk away from the wrestling business while on top of the world in LEGACY. That whole time, it ate away at me that I decided to walk away from the business so much that I tried to fill that void in my life. I tried to race in the lower levels of NASCAR briefly. I surfed. I skated. I went to church with the family every Sunday. I went to dinner and the movies with Allison and the kids. I went to gymnastic meets. I went to soccer games. I even watched my only son whip around race-tracks around California in a go-kart to chase HIS dream. And yet? Nothing… NOTHING… could replace… THIS!

Justin puts his hands out to the crowd, who gives a decent reaction as Justin nods and continues.

Justin Moreno: Nothing could replace the rush I got from launching myself off the top rope onto some poor schmuck it took “Extreme Measures” to beat. Nothing could replace the fans chanting MY name! And in recent months, I have been watching the old guard like Dan Stein put on some killer matches. I have seen old foes like Eryk reinvent themselves. I have seen the second generation of guys I wrestled with bring their kids into this great business. I have been watching SHOOT diligently, salivating about all the dream matches I could be out there having! I see how the new generation keeps raising the bar I helped set, continually pushing it higher and higher. And with that, wrestling fans… I have something I need to say to each,,, and every one of you that ever bought a ticket to see me wrestle and everyone I cheated out of seeing me perform in my wheelhouse after all these years. And that is… I’m sorry…

The fans pop, giving a decent chant of “MO-RE-NO! MO-RE-NO!” as Moreno bows his head solemnly. He then inhales as he closes his eyes and opens them, this time with a foreign expression to fans familiar with Justin Moreno’s work.

Justin Moreno: … for ever setting the bar so high!

The fans freeze as Justin continues.

Justin Moreno: On the flight here, I racked my brain, thinking of ways I could please you people with my return to the rigors of professional wrestling… thinking of ways I could be the Justin Moreno of old. The truth is… I’m not the Justin Moreno you remember. I’m… redeemed!

The fans seem puzzled as Moreno continues.

Justin Moreno: Yes, redeemed… redeemed not just in God’s eyes, but redeemed in the sense of seeing the light that in professional wrestling… I helped enable and usher in an era where people do nonsensical double rotation Canadian Destroyers, career-shortening apron moves, ridiculous flips and dives… and only win by roll-up after throwing everything but the kitchen sink at each other. I helped destroy the credibility of professional wrestling… I pandered to you people constantly asking me to leap off of higher and higher things and do crazier and crazier moves… and what did it get me in the end? It got me a jacked-up neck that will never be fully healed… it gave me knees that my doctor claims need to be replaced in the next three to five years… and I blame each and every last one of you miserable leeches and cretins for not only killing the business… but trying to kill ME in the process!

Justin coldly glares at the fans as now, they start booing the HELL out of Moreno. A cold smirk crosses Moreno’s face as he continues.

Justin Moreno: Now that we’re being honest with each other, let me tell you people why I’m here! I am here… to redeem professional wrestling. Redeem it… from the reckless style permeating it these days. Redeem it… from fans that ask for too much from performers without any regards to their long-term health. Redeem it… from the excess and immorality choking the life out of the pureness of the sport of professional wrestling! In short, I am here to be the self-appointed “Redeemer” of professional wrestling, and cleanse it of the sins of envy, greed, lust, avarice, and everything in-between. In short, I am here… to burn SHOOT Project to the ground… to save it! You may not like what I say. You may think I’m pious… sanctimonious… proselytizing… whatever adjective you choose to use to describe me. But I am doing this… for the greater good. I am doing this… to save not just professional wrestling… but save you from yourselves!

The fans are now full-throatedly booing Justin, chanting, “FUCK YOU J-MO!!! (clap clap clap clap clap)”. All Justin does is stare at them impassively before lifting the microphone to his mouth one last time as he speaks up.

Justin Moreno: So this is how it’s going to be, huh? I bring you a message of truth and redemption… yet you callously reject it. But you know what? It’s okay. It really is. There was a man two thousand years ago who also brought people a message of truth and redemption… and they rejected him, too. You people can boo all you want, but there will be a day coming soon when the wrestling world finds out how euphoric it can feel to be… redeemed… and how excruciating and torturous it will be when that hour of judgment comes upon each and every one of you who chose not to be “redeemed”… In closing, I leave you with this. Those who see the light and repent of the wrestling culture and lifestyle they helped enable… will find everlasting grace and bliss. Those of you who reject redemption? May God have mercy on each and every poor soul who rejected my message of hope and redemption today! Father, forgive them… for they know not what they do!

Coldly, Justin backs away to the unfamiliar sound of boos and venom spewed by fans. And yet, it has no effect on him except for a silent chuckle before disappearing behind the curtain.

Eryk Masters: Justin Moreno has officially lost his damned mind! Who does he think he is to be so self-righteous?

Other Guy: Didn’t you hear him? He’s out to save professional wrestling from itself! Yeah, his religious overtones are a bit overbearing, but I happened to think he brought up some valid points tonight!

Eryk Masters: You’re unbelievable, you know that?

VOID Vs. Dan Stein

Kitsune & The Bone Brigade Vs. Proper Villainz (c)

The fans are LOSING it as Mike, Dave, and Kitsune pile on top of one another, screaming bloody murder at having achieved what many might have called impossible.  Not us, though.  We knew.  If you didn’t know, now you know.  The referee takes a hold of the three Triad Championships as Thane glares at the three of them.  He motions to Bronson, who wraps his fist in a pair of brass knuckles!

Eryk Masters:  Oh what is this?!  COME ON!

Bronson NAILS Dave in the back of the head!  Mike is up to his feet and Bronson takes him DOWN with a hard knuckle shot!  Kitsune is up and tries to prepare for a spell but Bronson CLOCKS him, too!  All three members of the newly formed Brogun Warriors are down!  Thane takes a microphone as the fans boo mercilessly.  Kintaro and RAIKO stand back, arguing with one another about what’s happening, though it’s unknown who supports what’s happening.

Thane:  Your…resignation…is rejected, gentlemen.

Bronson sprawls over Dave and begins to pummel him with brass knuckle shots.

Thane:  Because you’re all fired.

Thane smirks and puts the boots to Mike to keep him down.  Kitsune is clutching his head and Kintaro moves towards him, only to be stopped by RAIKO.  Bronson sees Kitsune and gets off of Dave.  He motions to Thane and the two descend upon Kitsune until… “Wolf Totem” by The HU and Jacoby Shaddix kicks in.

Eryk Masters:  NO WAY!  He’s back!

TADAKATSU charges the ring and slides in.  He gets to his feet and SLAMS Kintaro down with a Lariat!  Bronson is up…TONBOKIRI!!!  The spear FLATTENS Bronson, leaving Thane and Tadakatsu.  Mike and Dave pull themselves up to their feet behind Tadakatsu.  Tadakatsu stands over Kitsune’s body and glares at Thane.  Thane, however, sneers and moves towards Tadakatsu.  Tadakatsu wastes no time and NAILS Thane with the TONBOKIRI!!!  Kintaro, Bronson, and Thane all roll around in agony on the mat as Tadakatsu stands there watching them.

Other Guy:  Thane tried to isolate Kitsune!  He tried to isolate the Bone Brigade!  He got Fuego and Tadakatsu sent out of the country!  Tadakatsu managed to find a way back and now he’s…it looks like he’s standing with the Broguns!

Tadakatsu turns to Mike, Dave, and Kitsune.  He brushes his hair back and Kitsune finally sees what’s happening.  The referee hands the three Triad titles to Dave, who gives one to Mike.  Kitsune, however, walks right over to Tadakatsu and embraces him to a THUNDEROUS pop.  “Crisis” by Jasiah kicks back in.  Tadakatsu holds Kitsune’s arm up in victory and motions to Mike to hand Kitsune his title.  Dave, overcome with emotion, embraces Tadakatsu who is immediately confused and uncomfortable all over again and in full stranger danger mode.  Mike joins in and you can visibly see how unhappy Tadakatsu becomes.  It doesn’t matter.

We have new Triad Champions.

Unholy Cyber Army Vs. Sin City Scoundrels (c)

As attendants and crew members run to the ring, most wearing thick protective gloves to keep from cutting themselves,, Power Devil and Superbeast stand tall, battered, but wielding the Tag Team Championships. 

Eryk Masters: I can say with confidence—this was a violent, violent affair.  No matter how you feel about Michael and Lucas Sexton, you can’t deny that they brought everything they had to this fight!

Other Guy: Listen, ‘Ryk, they’re gonna be champions in my heart forever!

As the medical team begins to make their way down to the ring, the Cyber Army’s attention turns to them—then to the fallen Scoundrels, who are rolling about, attempting to get their bearings.  They share a brief look and a nod—and then begin to lay the boots into the Sextons!! 

Other Guy: Hey!  Stop that!!

Power Devil rolls to the floor and rummages under the ring, emerging with a bundle of light tubes and a chair.  He slides them into the ring and returns, and both members of the UCA Haul Michael to his feet.  There is a long,  tense moment as they consider what they’re about to attempt..  They gauge distance for a brief moment as the crowd screams, then both get a hold of his tights at the waist and each of his arms.  They run forward, lifting him up, and LAUNCH him over the ropes to the announce table practically head first!!

Eryk: What we’re seeing is—oh, shit, mo-

The audio from the announce team cuts to screeching feedback as Michael crashes through the table VIOLENTLY, scattering papers and audio equipment, knocking Eyk and OG to the floor!!  A Loud “WITNESS!” screams out from the ring, and is met in kind by the crowd.  Superbeast pulls Lucas up by the neck, backing him to a corner.  Power Devil walks to the opposite corner, haunching down, chair in hand.  They start screaming to one another, Superbeast asking him for confirmation—Power devil slapping the chair on the mat and taking practice swings!  They’re about to take action when suddenly, the crowd breaks into boos and shouts of excitement—from the back, running down the ramp, are Joshua Breedlove and KIMO!!  With a loud reconnection, the audio cuts back on from the announce team!

Eryk Masters: –back on, ladies and gentlemen, Michael Sexton is out cold and the same fate would befall his brother, but we’re actually seeing the arrival of Josh Breedlove!!

Other Guy: What do you mean, ‘actually’

Eryk Masters: I’ve never known Josh to be a man of action, or one willing to stare down to berserkers like this!!

Other Guy: Screw you Eryk, that man’s a hero!

Breedlove and Kimo make it into the ring, and the standoff is precisely that.  Power Devil looks at them both, chair in hand.  Superbeast looks at them both, Lucas in hand.  Breedlove puffs out his chest, clearly ready to rumble—Kimo smirks at both of them, clapping his shoulders and inviting either one to do something about it.  The atmosphere is electric as all four men consider their next move.  Power Devil then grins, nodding his head.  Breedlove breaks into…a smile? 

Eryk Masters: Wait…

Superbeast hauls off and whips Lucas right at Kimo with blinding speed—Kimo pops him into the air and BURIES him into the mat with a diving powerbomb!  The crowd erupts into confused screaming as the former champion rolls around, almost delirious with pain!  All four men meet around the reeling body of Lucas Sexton, looking at each other.  There is a tense moment—and then they start shaking hands!!  The crowd EXPLODES into boos, as they all pat each other on the shoulder and then start to absolutely blanket a fallen man with hard kicks and stomps!!

Other Guy: What a masterstroke!!

Eryk Masters: Oh, stuff it OG!!  Josh Breedlove has somehow convinced the Demons of Cyber Roppongi to become members of the Empire!!  And they’re not letting up on Lucas Sexton!!

Other Guy: The Sextons deserve it for failing, ‘Ryk!! 

They break, and Power Devil picks up the light tube bundle.  He shoulders it and holds it out for Joshua, who sneers and takes it from him.  He paces, taking a few practice swings with the bundle of tubes, warming his arms up.  KIMO and Superbeast get Lucas to his feet, holding him up by either arm.  There’s a tense moment as the less fortunate of the Scoundrels opens his swollen eyes, looking at Breedlove with confusion and fear.  His lips are moving, but we can’t hear him.  Breedlove hauls back and lays a remarkably ginger strike to Lucas’ forehead—but it’s enough, as the tubes explode in a cloud of dust and Lucas drops to his knees, practically limp!!  Power Devil calls for, and is tossed, a microphone, which he screams into with his trademark howl. 

Power Devil: This!  Is!  Not a time for weaklings!  Not a time for cowards!!  Not a time for jesters like the Sexton brothers!!

He takes a slow stomp around the ring as the crowd breaks out in a fresh round of aggravated booing. 

Power Devil: This is an era for those who take their thrones by any means necessary!!  The Kings of Hell now sit side by side with the Emperor…

He looks to the entrance, gritting his teeth somewhere between a grin and a predatory scowl.

Power Devil: …and not a one of you have the tenacity or the strength to dare oppose us!!

He tosses the mike to Breedlove, who holds his arms out for adulation.  What comes instead is trash, first a single cup, then leading to a more steady array of popcorn boxes, nacho trays, and balled up napkins.

Breedlove: Boy, the Sextons sure are dumb idiot losers, aren’t they?

Breedlove kicks some of the trash away, still bathing in the noise of the crowd.

Breedlove: We only want WINNERS here in the Holy Breedlove Empire, and the Sextons have proven beyond the shadow of any sort of doubt that they are NOT winners. They are, in fact, the weakest link(s). That’s with parentheses, because real men speak with parentheses when necessary.

Eryk Masters: What the fuck does that even mean?! What does ANY of this mean?

Other Guy: Well, E… I’d imagine that if you stop talking, he will tell you.

Breedlove: Because we only want winners here, the Holy Breedlove Empire has seen to it to sign the strongest men to its roster, and THOSE men are the UNHOLY CYBER ARMY. Now, with them, my strong and virile tag team champions… the SHOOT Project will BEAR WITNESS!!!

UCA: WITNESS!

Breedlove: To a new, stronger, more powerful Empire. With me at the helm and ALL of this talent around me, WHO could stop us? VALOR? LOL. I enunciated each letter there because actually laughing would be too much effort. The Proper Villainz?! HAHAHA. Please. Victor Thane exists BECAUSE of Joshua Breedlove and since he’s decided that the proper course of action for his career is to spend it blowing the nuts of the TOILET GOD X-Calibur… because I get up for a piss break whenever he’s on screen… I’m no longer really that interested in him… or the Villainz.

Breedlove nonchalantly shrugs his shoulders.

Breedlove: Kitsune and the Bone Brigade were the best of you clowns anyway and Mike smells like mildewy weed ALL THE TIME, so you know that takes a lot for me to say… but I digress. Nobody… and I mean absolutely fucking NO ONE has the POWER to stand up to the Unholy Breedlove Empire.

ALL TOGETHER NOW: WITNESS!!!



Ayumi Seppuku Vs. Joshua Breedlove (c)

Eryk Masters: The Epicenter is buzzing right now, Guy. Ayumi may not have won the belt from Breedlove this evening, but she proved she deserved to have that title shot.

Other Guy: And Breedlove proves once AGAIN that he is unstoppable. He truly is a pillar of excellence here in the SHOOT Project.

Eryk Masters: You’ve got that right, Guy. I mean… if Ayumi couldn’t beat Breedlove? Who the hell CAN?

Ayumi bends over, holding her knees, as Joshua Breedlove confidently holds the Sin City Championship to the crowd who boo in response. As the boos rain down, the lights in the Epicenter suddenly cut out and the crowd roars – waiting for what’s going to happen next.

Eryk Masters: The last time this happened Eryk, Aymumi got doused in blood and her locker room got ransacked. 

Other Guy: Who-

Before Guy can finish his thought, a video feed pops up on the Jumbotron and it looks like an alleyway of some sort off the Vegas strip. The camera bobs as whomever is holding it jumps down a flight of stairs to come to a nicely decorated metal door left slightly ajar.

The sign on the door says “Claire’s Wares” 


Other Guy: Eryk… I’ve seen this place before. It’s…

An invisible hand pushes the door open and a gasp echoes through the crowd as they see just absolute destruction – broken shelves, glass, overturned tables, and as the camera zooms in…

Eryk Masters: Oh my God.

An unconscious body lays on the floor, unmoving, A male, muscular figure but wearing a flowing red dress. 

Other Guy: This has to be Claire Voyant’s shop, Eryk. One of Ayumi’s friends – we’ve seen them together in videos Ayumi’s shared… what is this all about?

The camera lifts, slowly, up from the destruction … to reveal a message, sprayed in red liquid similar to the message on Ayumi Seppuku’s locker room at Revolution:

YOU TOOK WHAT WAS MINE.

NOW I’LL TAKE WHAT IS YOURS.

In the corner of the shot you can see glowing, orange light of a flame as the camera operator staggers back and shows a rising flame consuming a white, fur dress that gets engulfed immediately.

The camera spins wildly, trying to run back out the door before the feed cuts to static and leaves the audience in shocked silence.

Breaking that silence, in the darkness, is a vicious, guttural scream as the lights return and we see Ayumi Seppuku is already halfway up the ramp, not stopping for a split second as she runs behind the curtains, through the backstage of the Epicenter, and out the back as fast as her feet will carry her.



Azraith DeMitri Vs. X-Calibur (c)

Wide shot of the colorful Conquest audience.  The SHOOT faithful hold their signage high and disregard their spaghetti arms after hours of proudly waving their fandom.  The camera pans across the many faces in the vast rows of the arena as the producer cuts back to the commentators table where Eryk Masters and Other Guy are about to analyze the recent events of Conquest.

Eryk Masters:  (Barely opens his mouth)…

Their attention is suddenly directed to the stage.  Cameras quickly focus and pan toward a man sneaking out of the Gorilla Position.  There’s no music.  There’s no entrance video.  The fans and commentators realize who the man is as the producers supply footage from the tracking cameras on the screen.  The reaction within the crowd is mixed, but there are plenty of jeers.

Eryk Masters:  What the…?

Other Guy:  Is that…?

The short haired man with a plethora of tattoos from wrist to shoulder is wearing an all black, white logo SHOOT Project t-shirt, and dark blue jeans that flow with a pair of gray Goodfellow Elliot casual sneakers.  There’s a rather unique feel to him, and a glow to the smile that’s enhancing a rather innocent visage.  

Eryk Masters:  …that’s…that’s CK Butcher!

Other Guy:  Wow, talk about seeing a ghost!  

The crowd’s reaction is natural, and it’s a clear indication of who CK Butcher was, or is, within the SHOOT Project universe.  There are, however, many within the crowd who respect his work and their voices are heard within the arrangement.  

Eryk Masters:  Ladies and gentlemen – it’s been a handful of months since we’ve seen CK Butcher in a SHOOT Project ring.  It seemed as if we saw another flash in the pan, another fall from grace, or self destruction.  However, and I’m wiping the film from my eyes to make sure I’m not seeing things, there is something different here…

Other Guy:  No, I’m seeing it too.  He’s cleaned up.  He looks…good.  He looks…real good.  I don’t feel right saying that…

The fans are just as confused as the analysts.  Butcher arrives at the edge of the ring and reflects for a moment as he rubs his hands on the apron.  He takes a deep breath and smiles.  He removes a microphone from the butt pocket of his jeans, and rolls into the ring.  He’s on his knees, and gently presses his palms on the canvas.  He studies the floor below him.  He continues to press on the canvas to absorb its energy.  He smiles, and closes his eyes.  A couple seconds later he raises the microphone.  He’s soft spoken, and remorseful.

CK Butcher:  I’m…I’m sorry.

His eyes open as he stands.  He faces the crowd.  He points and pans his finger.  The tone in his voice is changing.

CK Butcher:  This is what you all deserve…

He places his hand on his chest.  

CK Butcher:  …you deserve an apology.  

Then he removes the hand from his chest and raises it.

CK Butcher:  No swerves here.  No lies.  No bullshit.  Throw any idea of me being a cerebral villain out the window.  

The fans are at attention as CK Butcher calmly paces the SHOOT Project wrestling ring.  He speaks with great zeal.

CK Butcher:  This is as real as it gets, folks.  No more gimmicks.  I’m stripped to the bone; raw.  No more facade.  As you can see – I am not dressed to wrestle, I won’t be interrupting a match, and I don’t plan to call anyone out.  There’s no Alden, or Elvis; there never was.  My agenda is simple, but it’s going to take an emotional sledgehammer to unfortunately do what’s typically frowned upon in this sport.  I’m going to break the fourth wall. 

He stops, strokes his stubbled chin, and then continues to pace.

CK Butcher:  My life was forever changed when I penned my real name on a document that dictated to me that I’ve finally made it.  I had finally done something with my life.  My dreams came true.  The goal I pursued, and the many days, nights, that I pushed and pushed to be better – it all came together.  I can still feel the excitement, it’s like a never-ending drunken escapade. I was a SHOOT Soldier, and I was going to do whatever it would take to get to the top.  I had ideas.  I had aspirations.  I was so absolutely ready to take the world by storm, and the SHOOT Project knew it – everybody knew it – I was God damned good at what I did.  Maybe…too good?  But, I’m a victim.  I’m a victim of personal demons.  Demons I couldn’t control.  I fucked up.  I have not a single soul in this business to blame but myself and I’m not here to point fingers or make excuses.  

He walks over to a turnbuckle that faces the hard camera and he rests his arms against it.

CK Butcher:  I took an idea and SHOOT creative had the faith in me to control it, guide it, carry it on my shoulders and take it to the top.  They gave me support, and embraced every ounce of my imagination.  Whatever I needed – I was given.  The freedom was impeccable, rich, and endless.  I had the world in the palm of my hands.

He steps back from the turnbuckle and studies his palms.  He quickly shoots a look toward the crowd.

CK Butcher:  And, of course, as the story goes…I fucked that all up.  Implosion.  Not a single superstar in the back could break through to my soul – I had to do it myself.  Lesson learned.

CK Butcher:  Every single one of you were whisked away as we traversed the rabbit hole into a nihilistic vortex of unimaginable behavior and sadism.  It was disgusting!  It was brutal!  I’m embarrassed when I recall the many cinematic moments that drove me into a cavern of internal despair and turned me into a callous wretch.  I am great at what I do, and I was great at what I did.  I’m an artist after all,  but I did not foresee the consequences.  Should I have?  Is it true that the consequences were smack-dab in my face the entire time?  I won’t answer that bullshit right now, but what I will do is say this:  I’m not in the ballpark to play characters anymore.  I’m not in the game to do something that fucks me up like that did.

CK Butcher: Because…I’ve ALWAYS been a character.  Why be something that I’m not, when the best part about me is sitting the bench waiting to be called into the game?  I can’t keep being a bad guy because that’s just not who I am.  I played one.  The reality?  I’m a good man and I desperately want to be myself.

He stops for a moment to breathe deeply.  His chin quivers.  He bites his lower lip and seems to be fighting back tears.  He’s breathing faster, and then gains control.  He turns to the crowd once more.

CK Butcher: THAT’S why I’m here, friends.  I can call you all friends, right?

No, the crowd isn’t sold.  There’s no chanting for CK Butcher. There are a few claps and muffled chirps; not much to CK’s surprise as he slowly nods and smirks.

CK Butcher:  I expected that.  I don’t blame you.  I’ve been the fool that’s fooled, but I promise you that’s not my intention.  You see – when it finally dawned on me that the character was hurting me more mentally than physically – I had to take a step back and reassess my true self.  That character was draining a perfectly good human being, and today’s world doesn’t need that.  There’s enough negativity outside, and inside, our walls, unfortunately.  There’s plenty of madness to go around.  What we need is kindness, generosity, fairness, and care.  We need empathy.  We need that example.  We NEED…good.  I would love to be that person, but I know it’s going to take a lot of learning, and a lot of mistakes.  If there’s anything I know better than anyone – it’s the notion that human beings make mistakes.  CK Butcher was a mistake, and CK Butcher will eventually be the solution.  My solution. I guaran-damn-tee-it.  I will EARN your respect.

CK Butcher:  I will, eventually, make you a believer.  I owe this to you.  I owe this to my friends, and family.  Most importantly – I owe this to myself.  So, with that being said, I’m coming BACK to the SHOOT Project.  (He begins to beat his chest with every word) I…AM COMING…HOME.

His fist rests on his chest where the SHOOT helmet emblem is proudly displayed.  The beating gesture seems to have ignited the crowd.  There are cheers rising, light, but noticeable.  He takes another step forward as the hard camera slowly zooms in for a tighter shot of the superstar.

CK Butcher:  I’m coming back to do this thing the right way.

He slaps his hand against the ropes, pulls himself forward and leans over them.

CK Butcher:  I’m coming back to EMPOWER, and I’m coming back to ENLIGHTEN; NO GIMMICKS.  I’m going to be ME.  As real as it gets.  I’m going to come out to this ring and put on banger after GOD DAMN banger and I’m going to continue making this promotion THE BEST freakin’ wrestling company on the planet…

Then he pushes himself off the ropes and returns to the center of the ring.  He pauses, briefly strokes his chin and spins around to face the hard camera.

CK Butcher:  …But, I can’t leave this ring just yet.  I want to say something to two very important colleagues before I head to the back and begin my salt of the earth journey.  Buck Dresden…

Now THERE is a pop!  The crowd goes wild just hearing the name roll off Butcher’s lips.  CK smiles, and agrees with the emotion.

CK Butcher:  He’s the man…Buck…you will always be the better man.  You always were the better man.  Some day we’ll meet again and I’ll be one hundred percent, and when that happens – we’ll show the world what we can do together in this ring.  

The crowd continues to cheer.  Butcher nods, and then notices a cameraman making his way onto the ring apron.  CK hurries toward the in-ring camera and immediately faces it with a huge grin.

CK Butcher:  Nate-FUCKING-Robideau…

The entire arena erupts as CK Butcher’s face engulfs the camera with a toothy grin after announcing the SHOOT Project World Champion.

CK Butcher: You’re a true inspiration.  If there’s one thing I did right…even though it could be looked at as being completely wrong…it’s what you and I put together.  You’re as real as it gets, Nate, and look at you now…

He pushes the camera away and takes a couple steps back into the center of the ring.

CK Butcher:  …you were always the SHOOT Project World Champion.  One day we’ll meet again, but tonight – I’ll be in the back…and I won’t just be gearing up for what’s to come…I’ll also be cheering for Nate Robideau…

Butcher drops the microphone on the canvas and places his right hand over his heart.  He waves to the crowd.  Butcher backs away toward the ropes as the camera cuts back to Eryk Masters and Other Guy.

Eryk Masters:  Wow, I didn’t expect that!  CK Butcher is BACK!

Other Guy:  Yeah.  I was never a fan of the guy, Eryk, so I’m trying real hard to believe this isn’t a fluke, or another attempt to pull the wool over our eyes.  I can’t accept this right now.  This is going to take time.

Eryk Masters:  I couldn’t agree more, and I’m sure every superstar backstage will be walking on eggshells whenever he’s around.  

Other Guy:  I cannot say that I’m not interested.  Man…what a night!

NEMESIS Vs. Nate Robideau (c)